In Part 1 of this series I wrote that three major events led directly to my departure from my old church several months ago. I want to chronicle those events here in hope that some of my readers may be able to detect the infiltration of the heretical principles of the church growth/seeker sensitive/purpose-driven movement creeping into their own congregations.
In October of 2005 I underwent my own personal reformation of belief, turning away from Arminianism to Calvinism, away from a man-centered theology to a Christocentric theology. This startling change began, due in part, to my intense dissatisfaction with the church and the preaching from the pulpit. As I examined the messages I couldn’t help but feel the biblical content was minimal, with the wisdom of men used as filler. That sent me on a journey to discover the truth about the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. This, in turn, led me to embrace Reformation Theology. However, I did not leave my church immediately. Instead, I turned on my discernment radar and listened closely to every word spoken from the pulpit. Sadly, I must report, the results were appalling.
The first event that shattered my faith in our church was a particular message delivered around March of 06. It was entitled, “Blueprints for the Church of Tomorrow’ or something similar. The most notable attribute of this so-called sermon was actually its lack of biblical content – as in zilch, zero, nada. God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit were nowhere brought into the message. Of course, the gospel was never presented, not even in our typical shallow way via the sinner’s prayer. The absence of these elements is especially shocking considering the message was about growing the church! The pastor’s idea of growth consisted of utilizing the latest technological advancements and cultural trends in order to entice the ‘unchurched’ into attending.
My now ex-pastor has over the past 6 years moved the focus of his ministry away from Christ and the cross of His suffering toward the ‘felt needs’ of the congregation. ‘Felt needs’ are the perceived needs of the people in the community. We aren’t talking about washed and redeemed children of God, but the unsaved! Oh sorry, I meant unchurched (hope no one shut down their browser after reading that).
Preachers are instructed by church-growth architects to find out what people need or want and tailor their messages to meet those needs. The audience’s perceived needs overrule what the bible says they need. I can say with boldness that man’s perceived needs and God’s declaration of what we need are not the same things. Modern Americans perceive their greatest needs to be self-satisfaction, happiness, financial stability, marital bliss and good jobs. In contrast, the bible says we need salvation, forgiveness, cleansing from sin, a new heart, adoption into God’s family, deliverance from God’s wrath, the righteousness of Christ, the covering of sins by His shed blood, holiness, sanctification, obedience to the commandments, humility, repentance and faith.
Yes, some of these things are spoken of from the pulpit, but only in passing and with little to no explanation as to what they truly mean. To get into Club Christian, repentance (from what?) and faith (in who? – for the person and work of Jesus is rarely defined) are quickly tacked on to the end of every man-centered message, but are never the focal point. This has been going on for years, but because I believed in my pastor I never questioned his methods. I became a victim of the cult of personality. In my view pastor was nearly infallible – at least until God opened my eyes.
His ‘Blueprints for the Church’ message raised a red flag in my heart and mind. It frightened me a bit, to be honest. His vision of the church of tomorrow has man with his wants and desires at its core. A body of believers sanctified by the blood of Jesus will be replaced by a social club of self-centered pleasure seekers. The man on the throne they claim to worship may vaguely resemble the Jesus of the bible, but only on the surface – enough to fool the masses into relieving their consciences of guilt while yet serving an idol formed from the burning desires of their own lusts.
However, this soul chilling message still did not motivate me to action (yes, I know – I’m a little slow on the uptake). The countdown clock began ticking in my spirit, but I did not feel it was time to flee for the hills. I believe God wanted me to stay so I could see this heresy fully manifest in our midst.
More to come, God willing.